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Emergency Driving and Pursuits: The Officer's Perspective

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 78 Issue: 4 Dated: April 2009 Pages: 1-7
David P. Schultz; Ed Hudak; Geoffrey P. Alpert Ph.D.
Date Published
April 2009
7 pages
This article presents results of surveys and interviews with officers during in service training in Minnesota on perceptions of emergency and pursuit driving.
The data clearly showed the inherent dangers of police work and the enormous risks officers face during their careers. The officers responding to the surveys were involved in more than 1,500 crashes during their careers. Data revealed that just over 40 percent of pursuits resulted in a crash, with more than 2,000 involving an officer. These results support other research showing that 4 out of 10 pursuits result in a crash. With the sheer number of pursuits resulting in crashes, law enforcement is looking to find ways of reducing them. The most interesting finding of the study, was that the officers made the decision to terminate (i.e., ending the effort to apprehend the fleeing suspect by turning off the emergency lights and sirens) only 1,269 times, or in 4.7 percent of the pursuits. Too many officers have died or been seriously injured while trying to apprehend suspects or responding to calls for help from the citizens they have sworn to protect. To help law enforcement community better understand the dangers associated with emergency driving, the authors present the results of surveys and interviews with officers during in-service training in Minnesota. They also outline the issues of both emergency and pursuit driving and make policy suggestions for agencies to consider. 2 tables and 6 endnotes